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Semi-finalists for Ray Guy Award announced, but missing last year’s winner

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Who is the best punter in the land? According to the Ray Guy Award, there are now 10 players left in the running for that title in the 2019 season.

This year’s semi-finalists for the Ray Guy Award are Oscar Bradburn (Virginia Tech), Joseph Charlton (South Carolina), Max Duffy (Kentucky), Tyson Dyer (New Mexico), Sterling Hofrichter (Syracuse), Adam Korsak (Rutgers), Dane Roy (Houston), Tommy Townsend (Florida), Michael Turk (Arizona State), Owen White (Navy).

Somehow, last year’s winner, Texas A&M’s Braden Mann, didn’t make the cut. Mann is third in the nation in punting average (48.21 yards per punt). Not exactly sure how that happened, but there will be a new Ray Guy Award winner this season as a result of this slip form the award’s committee.

Syracuse AD says 2019 football season has been frustrating but Orange on the right trajectory

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Syracuse football was one of the remarkable turnaround stories during the 2018 season and the Orange have become one of the more remarkable turnaround stories during the 2019 season… only in the opposite direction many assumed coming into the year.

Despite the program backsliding from their first 10 win season in nearly two decades to their current mark of 3-6 though, athletic director John Wildhack told a local radio station that he’s firmly behind the team and head coach Dino Babers no matter how difficult things have been on the field this year.

“This year is frustrating, no question,” Wildhack said, according to Syracuse.com. “I think this program is in a much better place than it was three or four years ago. I give Coach Babers a lot of credit. We’ll continue to work to analyze what we need to do to make the program better, to make it successful. I’m confident we’ll do that.

“I honestly believe, and I deeply believe, that we are on the right trajectory to where we can be consistently good every year. That’s what we want.”

The Orange being consistently good every year is obviously a great goal to have but something the school has struggled to do for many years on the gridiron. There was hope that Babers was the guy to help raise the floor, so to speak, of the program when hired and he put together a remarkable 2018 season that was a great indication of that — leading to a lucrative contract extension last December designed to keep bigger programs from plucking their head coach.

But the followup has not gone as well with the team struggling to protect their quarterback and the defense give up so many points that they fired coordinator Brian Ward, a long time assistant under the head coach, after a loss to Boston College.

Syracuse football is 21-25 overall under Babers but there is hope that this is simply a bump in the road with the bulk of the two-deep at the moment made up of underclassmen and only a handful of seniors in the starting lineup. The Orange will try to keep their bowl possibilities alive on Saturday when they play at Duke in ACC action.

Three Power Five WRs added to Biletnikoff watch list

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For the fourth time in a little over a month, a major college football honor is adding to its watch list.

This week, the Biletnikoff Award announced that it has added five wide receivers to its watch list, including three from Power Five schools and two from Group of Five programs.  Those included this go-around are Louisville’s Chatarius Atwell, Western Kentucky’s Lucky Jackson, Syracuse’s Trishton Jackson, Tennessee’s Jauan Jennings and San Jose State’s Tre Walker (pictured).

Below are each players’ statistical particulars for the 2019 season:

  • Atwell: 46 receptions for 810 yards, eight touchdowns
  • L. Jackson: 62-839-2
  • T. Jackson: 51-780-8
  • Jennings: 50-771-7
  • Walker: 59-896-1

Walker is currently 13th in the nation in receiving yards, Lucky Jackson 17th. The latter is also tied for 25th in receptions per game.

The Biletnikoff Award is handed out annually to the nation’s most outstanding FBS receiver. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, which oversees the honor, stresses that “[a]ny player, regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back and running back) who catches a pass is eligible for the award.”

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy was the 2018 winner of the award.  A wide receiver has won the award every year since it was first handed out in 1994, and all of the players added this week are listed as receivers.

Syracuse fires DC Brian Ward after giving up 58 points to Boston College

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Getting blown-out by Boston College is hazardous to one’s career.

Adding to the list of surprisingly unsurprising firings on Sunday in the ACC, Syracuse announced that defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Brian Ward has been let go from his position after a 58-27 loss to the Eagles over the weekend.

“I want to thank Coach Ward for everything he’s done for Syracuse University and this football team,” head coach Dino Babers announced in a statement. “However I felt a change needed to be made at this time to give us the best opportunity for success moving forward. Coach Stanard is an experienced defensive coach. He’s been here for three years now and understands the culture of our program. I’m confident in his ability to lead that side of the ball.”

Former Nebraska defensive end and the Orange’s current line coach Steve Stanard will take over play-calling duties for the defense the rest of the season.

Syracuse currently ranks 92nd nationally in scoring defense, giving up just over 30 points per game in 2019. That’s not too far off from where the team was last season (27 ppg allowed) but the team’s record is obviously a far cry from what it was as they’ve slumped to 3-6 overall and remain winless in conference play.

It couldn’t have been easy for Babers to let Ward go as the two have been together since their Western Illinois days but the slippage on the field and the loss column was just too hard to ignore after the latest result for the team.

Boston College has put up 484 yards of first-half offense on Syracuse

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Look away if you’re in any way, shape or form a fan of defense.

Syracuse (3-5) came into this afternoon’s home date with Boston College (4-4) in the middle of the pack in rushing defense, giving up an average of 160 yards per game.  Through two quarters of play at the Carrier Dome, that average is headed much further south as the Orange has allowed the Eagles to put up 336 yards rushing in the first half alone.

The Eagles already have a pair of 100-yard rushers — AJ Dillon (146) and David Bailey (133).  As a team, they’re averaging 9.3 yards on their 36 carries.

BC isn’t just getting it done on the ground, though, as they have a pair of 50-yard-plus touchdown passes in the same game for the first time in more than a decade.

All told, the Eagles have put up 477 yards of offense; they came into Week 10 averaging 545.8 yards per game while the Orange had given up 427.4 ypg.

As for the score?  BC headed into the halftime locker room up 44-20 after putting up 34 second-quarter points.